Gilded Age Crisis: Will the support of Capitalism Last?

By Saveria Antonacci
Press Corps Writer

Labor activists and heads of large corporations gathered to seek out negotiations on fair working conditions for employees and competition for consumers. Some of these attendants include industry giants, like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, inventors, such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, and labor regulation activists, like Ida B. Tarbell and Upton Sinclair.

Discussions quickly began on whether the committee should tackle the issues at hand or let them follow a natural course of events. Many delegates advocated for a laissez-faire approach, in which the American Dream and capitalism will help workers grow their capital and move beyond their current social class.

One supporter of unrestricted capitalism includes George Washington Plunkitt, a New York State legislator. Plunkitt spearheaded debate on a slow-implementation approach towards increasing the minimum wage. He cited “one step at a time” as his method of handling the issues in question. Plunkitt joined with James Hill to promote small business activity in the economy by utilizing The American Business Association, the committee would deal with minimum wage and child labor issues afterward. He continued, “The American people will lose faith which is bad for markets.”

Meanwhile, the threat of trust-busting looms over delegates. It is rumored that President Theodore Roosevelt has the support of the Supreme Court to break up the largest American corporations in this point in time. The alleged first victim: Standard Oil. This is not good news for the titans of industry that make profits by weeding out small business competition. One of the most ardent of supporters for these trust-busting tactics include political activist Emma Goldman.

Find the update to this story here.

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